A Primer On Patent Law in Washington
This article discusses:
- What design patents are.
- Some general tips for your design patent application.
- Common types of design patent infringement.
What Are Design Patents? When Are They Necessary Or Useful?
The United States has several types of patents, including design patents. Patent law in the United States specifically intends for design patents to protect the shape of a design. As such, they only protect the exact shape that you submit. For example, if you were to submit drawings of a product from different angles, a design patent would only protect that particular thing. If another’s product has a slight difference in shape, your design patent would not protect against it. As a result, your design patent would not enable you to bring any lawsuits.
Although design patents are limited in this sense, they can be effective in other situations. For instance, if a competitor uses the same shape as your product, your design patent virtually makes it an open-and-shut case. Design patents are also relatively easy to get approved. Some even suggest that, although design patents are rejected if the drawing is inaccurate, applications are never rejected for prior art reasons.
What Should I Include In My Design Patent Application? How Do I Show The Specifics Of My Design When I File For The Patent?
We recommend including a few different drawings from different angles and perspectives. Also, include a brief explanation of each drawing, namely what it is showing and from what angle.
The description of your design patent application must accurately describe your product. Design patents do not require showing any usefulness or innovation, as is the case for utility patents.
- Understanding The Impact Of A Patent Modification On Patent Protection
- The Fundamentals Of Responding To A Patent Infringement Claim
- A Guide To Initiating Patent Litigation In California And Washington
- Beyond Patent Law in the United States – Expanding Internationally
- Navigating Your Utility Patent Law Case
- Uncovering The Complexities Of Utility Patent Law In The United States
- Relief Available In A Patent Infringement Claim
What Conditions Are There For Design Patents?
Examiners check your application against all prior art, as in previous patents and publications. For example, if your shape is basic, like a circle or a square, you will not be approved. On the other hand, any distinctive design, like a unique-looking car or a screenshot of the first screen of an app, will likely be approved. If you include two images that seemingly contradict each other, the examiner will most likely reject your application. The images you include must show a consistent design from different angles.
So long as your application is for something that is a new design and clearly shows what the product is, you should fare well.
How Long Is A Design Patent Valid For?
Your design patent is valid for 15 years from the date you file it. However, it is worth noting that it could take two to three years for the design patent to be issued. The specific circumstances of your patent law case will ultimately determine how long these things take.
You can begin selling your product the day after you file the patent. You do not have to wait for it to get issued, but if you do not, you must write on the product or packaging that the product is patent pending.
Selling your product for a year or more before you file your application will invalidate the patent.
What Are Some Examples Of Design Patent Infringement?
On the layout of a smartphone screen, the first screen in an app – if that is the same as what is shown in a design patent, that is clearly an infringement of that design patent.
Or consider something more physical, such as the shape of a virtual reality device or jewelry. If the shape shown in the design patent is exactly the same as the item in question, that, too, is clearly an infringement of the patent.
Even if the slightest of deviations are made, something like even a few millimeters in our jewelry example, then that product may not infringe your design patent.
What Can I Do If I Suspect There Is Infringement Of A Design Patent I Have?
Since many companies do not respond at all to communications that accuse them of infringing a patent, we recommend doing something with more bite, that is, filing patent litigation against them. In your complaint (the first step of litigation), you should explain how their product infringed the design patent. Doing so will mean you will be able to extract a higher licensing fee or settlement from them. Unfortunately, companies are overwhelmed with email and only respond to lawsuits.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Patent Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.